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AAA Music | 10 December 2019

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LOW SEA – Remote Viewing

| On 02, Apr 2013

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Y’know I must ask, when has a drum machine on a Rock and Roll record (or indeed most records of any genre) not sounded icy, cold and claustrophobic? The closest I can think of is The Kills and even then their records have live drums on them overdubbed by Jamie Hince, as effective a sound as it is when you have a machine that can effectively create any rhythm that pops into one’s mind, I would have assumed that someone would have broken away from the Sisters Of Mercy/Big Black style in the last… thirty odd years or so? The admittedly still pretty grand tradition is continued wholesale by this, the debut album from Ireland based “Post Modern Neo-Gothic Dance Music” (their words not mine!) band Low Sea, who right off the bat may sound a little too much like your common or garden darkwave try-hards, but given time to develop over the course of a whole album, become something very different, and much, much more interesting.

So yeah, Low Sea set themselves up for one hell of a fall with their genre moniker. One can’t help but go in expecting a ridiculous miasma of pretention and, if the listener doesn’t get it, they must feel slightly short changed by the band themselves. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. The Dresden Dolls had the same problem with their term “Brechtian Punk Cabaret”, but both bands deal with it in roughly the same way, by sticking to their guns and taking the songs they’ve written as seriously as possible, while this worked wonders for the Dolls, it only really works for about three quarters of this album in particular. The opening tracks in particular suffer from a certain self-consciousness, especially opener Afflictions of Love, that while fun enough, pales in comparison to when the duo throw off the shackles of the “gothic” part of their chosen genre and make the most glorious dark-hewn pop songs they can. “Alex” in particular shines with a synth line as maddeningly catchy as it is sinister and “When I’m Feeling Down” is the record’s turning point, it’s melodies bordering on dream-pop in their odd sense of grace.

In total, what we have here is a fundamentally exciting debut. True, there are some identity hiccups here and there but that’s what debut albums are for, and it’s not even a case of waiting to iron them out, by the end of the record there are some dizzyingly exciting moments and crucially, they seemed to have figured out the perfect mix of heart and ice. Yes, the drum machines may remain a variation on a theme set up in the early eighties, but at the core of this record is a forward thinking, subtle cocktail of influences that ends up vastly more than the sum of its parts. Recommended.

Will Howard